If you work in the field of data, business is booming. There’s never been so much interest in the risks and value of data than there is today. Organisations in every industry are investing in data so they can harness it to drive decision making, automate operations, and create personalised experiences for their customers. They’re also striving to better secure data while also thinking about how they can package their data up as a product.

As all of these drivers converge, interest in data is moving away from the IT department to business users. Siloed data warehouses operated with specialised analytical tools aren’t meeting the increasing demand for greater access to insights. In this environment, we’re seeing rising tension between the need to free data up to create value, and the equally important need to lock data down for security and compliance.

Every organisation is attempting to improve their ability to provide self-service data access to key decision makers and analysts. They’re trying to create a secure and well governed environment where business users can easily find and prepare the right data for their specific needs. But too often people have to rely on knowing the right person and asking nicely if they want to actually find and access the data they need.

The concept of a data marketplace offers a solution where people can provision the data they need by accessing varying degrees of raw or processed data sets. In an enterprise-wide catalogue, they can assess the quality, completeness, definitions and general usability of a data set within their organisation. Stewards of data can also use a crowdsourcing model to improve the accuracy of data over time, and business users take a stake in improving the collection and quality of data as they use it.

Taking this to the next level, organisations are increasingly looking to external data marketplaces to see how they can augment their own data with valuable third party data sets. This trend is best demonstrated by the changes going on in the banking and financial services at present. Open banking, alternative data and positive credit reporting are all converging to disrupt and transform the way that these institutions collaborate and share data with each other, while integrating data from credit bureaus and utility providers.

There is also the broader discussion around the value of open data and the creation of the open data economy. Defined as machine-readable information that’s made publicly available to others, as well as the algorithms and insights that arise from this, open data has the potential to generate significant economic value. McKinsey research suggests that seven sectors alone could generate more than $3 trillion a year in additional value as a result of open data.

As these developments continue to gather momentum in the coming years, it’s incumbent on governments to provide a stable policy and compliance framework so that organisations can remain competitive in the global data economy and marketplace. Those countries who develop the most data-centric policy environments for private and public sector organisations will soon develop a global competitive advantage in the same way that data-centric businesses such as Google, Amazon and Facebook have.

Michael Power | 19 Nov 2018